2000 ALL SCR 684
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
S. Saghir Ahmad J.R. P. Sethi J.
STATE OF BIHAR & ORS. Vs. KAMESHWAR PRASAD SINGH & ANR.
Special Leave Petition (Civil) 10653 of 1998Special Leave Petition (Civil) 12013 of 1998Special Leave Petition (Civil) 16740 of 1998
27th April 2000
Cases Cited :
Para 11: Land Acquisition, Anantnag & Anr. Vs. Mst.Katiji & Ors.[1987 (2) SCR 387]Para 12: New India Insurance Co. Ltd.Vs. Shanti Misra[1975 (2) SCC 840]Para 12: Brij Inder Singh Vs. Kanshi Ram [AIR 1917 PC 156]Para 12: Shakuntala Devi Jain Vs. Kuntal Kumari [1969 (1) SCR 1006]Para 12: Concord of India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Nirmala Devi [1979 (4) SCC 365]Para 12: Lala Mata Din Vs. A. Narayanan [1969 (2) SCC 770]Para 12: State of Kerala Vs. E.K. Kuriyipe [1981 Supp SCC 72]Para 12: Milavi Devi Vs. Dina Nath[1982 (3) SCC 366Para 12: O.p. Kathpalia Vs. Lakhmir Singh [1984 (4) SCC 66]Para 12: Prabha Vs. Ram Parkash Kalra [1987 Supp. SCC 339]Para 12: G.Ramegowda, Major Vs. Spl.Land Acquisition Officer [1988 (2) SCC 142]Para 12: Scheduled Caste Coop. Land Owning Society Ltd. Vs. Union of India[1991 (1) SCC 174]Para 12: Binod Bihar Singh Vs. Union of India [1993 (1) SCC 572]Para 12: Shakambari & Co. Vs. Union of India[1993 Supp (1) SCC 487]Para 12: Ram Kishan Vs. U.P. SRTC[1994 Supp (2) SCC 507]Para 12: Warlu Vs. Gangotribai [1995 Supp (1) SCC 37Para 12: State of Haryana Vs. Chandra Mani & Ors. [1996 (3) SCC 132]Para 13: Special Tehsildar, Land Acquisition, Kerala Vs. K.V. Ayisumma [1996 (10) SCC 634]Para 14: Nand Kishore Vs. State of Punjab [1995 (6) SCC 614]Para 14: N. Balakrishnan Vs. M.Krishnamurthy [1998 (7) SCC 123]Para 25: State of West Bengal & Ors. Vs. Aghore Nath Dey and Ors., etc. [1993 (2) SCR 919]Para 25: Direct Recruit Class II Engineering Officers Association and Ors. Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. [1990 (2) SCR 900]Para 29: Gursharan Singh & Ors. Vs. NDMC & Ors. [1996 (2) SCC 459]Para 30: Secretary, Jaipur Development Authority, Jaipur Vs. Daulat Mal Jain & Ors. [1997 (1) SCC 35]Para 31: State of Haryana & Ors Vs. Ram Kumar Mann[1997 (3) SCC 321]
SETHI, J.:- The respondents Brij Bihari Prasad Singh and Kameshwar Prasad Singh and one Ramjas Singh were directly recruited as Sub-Inspectors of Police on 2.1.1966. Brij Bihari Prasad Singh was promoted as Inspector of Police on officiating basis on 16.7.1971 with a clear stipulation that he will not get seniority in the rank of Inspector till selected by the IG's Board. Consequently he actually joined on 22.7.1971. Ramjas Singh was promoted as Inspector on 8.7.1972 in terms of Rule 616(c) of the Bihar Police Manual Rules (hereinafter referred to as "the Rules") as he had been awarded gallantry award. On 2.7.1978 Brij Bihari Prasad Singh was promoted as Inspector after selection under Rule 649 and was confirmed as such on 1.4.1982. The aforesaid respondent filed Writ petition No.6873 of 1990 in the High Court of Patna praying for direction to the respondents therein to consider his case for promotion to the post of Dy.SP treating his date of promotion to the post of Inspector of Police as 27.7.1971, the date when he joined as Inspector of Police consequent upon his initial promotion on officiating basis. The aforesaid writ petition was disposed of by the High Court on 30th November, 1990 directing Brij Bihari Prasad Singh to file representation and the petitioner-State to dispose of the same within three months. On 14.5.1991 the Director General of Police directed seniority of the aforesaid respondent in the rank of Inspector to be reckoned with effect from 27.7.1971. However, on 13.4.1993 the DGP modified the aforesaid order and directed confirmation of Brij Bihari Prasad Singh in the rank of Inspector with effect from 2.7.1978 when he was substantively promoted under Rule 649 of the Rules and placed him at Sl.No.86 Ka in the seniority list of Inspectors. Feeling aggrieved, the aforesaid respondent filed Writ Petition No.4108 of 1991 in the High Court which was allowed on 8.4.1994 with a direction of reckoning his seniority as Inspector with effect from 27.7.1971 and grant of all consequential benefits to him. As the directions were not complied with, contempt petition being MGC No.1360 of 1994 was filed in the High Court and according to the petitioners the order of the High Court passed in Writ Petition No.4108/91 was implemented allegedly under the threat of contempt.2. Ramjas Singh who was promoted as Inspector out of turn on the basis of gallantry award in terms of Rule 616(c) of the Rules had been promoted as Dy.SP with effect from 25th October, 1975. Alleging that the aforesaid Ramjas Singh was junior to him, the respondent Brij Bihari Prasad Singh filed writ petition No.697 of 1995 claiming promotion with effect from the date when Ramjas Singh was promoted as Dy.SP. The aforesaid writ petition was allowed on 26th July, 1995 directing promotion of Brij Bihari Prasad Singh as Dy.SP with effect from 25th October, 1975. The Letters Patent Appeal filed against the aforesaid judgment was dismissed by a Division Bench of the High Court on 22nd March, 1996 vide the judgment impugned in the SLP 12013/98.3. There being delay of 679 days in filing the SLP, the appellants have also filed Application being IA No.1/98 seeking condonation of delay in filing the SLP. It is submitted in the application that the order of the Division Bench of the High Court could not be challenged earlier allegedly due to the fear of contempt and various coercive orders passed by the High Court against the State and its officials. It is contended that as consequent upon the judgment of the High Court in Brij Bihari Prasad Singh's case, a number of writ petitions have been filed in the High Court of Patna for the grant of similar benefits, the State had no option left except to approach this Court. It is contended that the judgment impugned has been passed in violation of the provisions of law and the rules applicable and it has become a havoc in the Department and Government is facing great trouble in compliance of such type of directions for conferment of uncalled for benefits. It is submitted that if the impugned judgment is not rectified or set aside, the interests of more than 250 officers would be adversely affected. By promoting Brij Bihari Prasad Singh a number of senior officers are stated to have already superseded for no fault of theirs. If promotions are given in terms of the directions of the High Court, the same is likely to upset the entire cadre of Dy.SP of Police as well as Inspectors of Police in the State of Bihar. If not stopped, the consequence would be uncalled for litigation with heavy financial burden upon the State.4. Kameshwar Prasad Singh respondent in the SLP 10653 of 1998 filed a writ petition in the High Court praying for issuance of directions to the appellants to assign him seniority in the rank of Inspector of Police over Brij Bihari Prasad Singh and thereafter provide him with all consequential benefits. He claimed to have been appointed along with Brij Bihari Prasad Singh as Sub Inspector of Police in January, 1966. His name was shown above the name of Brij Bihari Prasad Singh in the cadre of Sub Inspectors. Both of them passed the PTC training together. He claimed that his case for substantive appointment of Sub Inspector was placed before the Director General of Police along with the cases of Brij Bihari Prasad Singh and others. The Selection Board which held its meetings on 17th and 18th August, 1978 is stated to have declared both the respondents as fit for officiating promotion on the higher post of Inspector of Police. On the basis of the recommendations made by the Board a Gazette Notification is stated to have been issued on 6th October, 1978 by which both the aforesaid respondents were promoted on officiating basis to the higher post of Inspector of Police. However, despite notification Kameshwar Prasad Singh could not join the post of Inspector till 3rd March, 1981. Both the aforesaid respondents were stated to have been confirmed with effect from 1.4.1982. In the seniority list published on 18th May, 1988, the said Kameshwar Prasad Singh was shown senior to Brij Bihari Prasad Singh by being placed at Sl.No.224 and Brij Bihari Prasad Singh at Sl.No.225. He then referred to the filing of the writ petition by respondent Brij Bihari Prasad Singh to which he was not made a party. He claimed that after the promotion of Brij Bihari Prasad Singh he could not be denied the relief claimed. Allowing the writ petition on 3rd July, 1997, the learned Single Judge of the High Court directed the petitioners herein to treat the said respondent as senior to Brij Bihari Prasad Singh as Inspector of Police and provide him with all consequential benefits including promotion to the next higher post, if he otherwise was found fit. It was, however, made clear that the judgment of the Court would not affect the interest of Brij Bihari Prasad Singh in the matter of promotion to the post of Dy.SP and SP which was noticed to have been already granted to him. LPA filed against the judgment of the learned Single Judge was dismissed on the ground of unexplained delay of 174 days, vide the judgment impugned in this petition.5. Indra Nand Mishra and others who were intervenors in the High Court filed an application with the submission that as they were likely to be adversely affected by the impugned judgment passed by the learned Single Judge and confirmed by the appellate Bench, their interests be protected and the court should ensure by giving the benefit to the writ petitioners that the interest of the intervenors would not be adversely affected. Their application was dismissed holding: "However, those persons are neither party in the present Letters Patent Appeal nor they were party in the writ applications referred to above. Even if they have bonafide grievance, the same cannot be appreciated and considered in this Letters Patent Appeal."6. They have also sought the condonation of delay mainly on the ground of not being aware of the judgment passed by the High Court which ultimately and eventually adversely affected their interests.7. We have heard the arguments of the learned counsel appearing for the parties and have perused the records.8. Appearing for the petitioners Mr.P.P. Rao, Senior Advocate has submitted that under the circumstances of the case and for the reasons detailed in the applications sufficient grounds have been made out for condoning the delay in filing the petitions. He has further submitted that the judgments impugned are contrary to law and totally in violation of the rules applicable in the case and if not set right, are likely to adversely affect a number of other officials who are admittedly senior than the respondents herein. According to the learned counsel 14 similar writ petitions and three contempt petitions are pending before the High Court wherein all the petitioners have claimed similar relief as was given to Brij Bihari Prasad Singh, on the ground of admittedly being senior to him. Besides 15 representations for similar reliefs are stated to be pending before the Government. Brij Bihari Prasad Singh is stated to have superseded 168 Inspectors by getting an order to give him seniority with effect from 27.7.1971. In the cadre of Dy.SP Brij Bihari Prasad Singh is stated to have superseded 407 officers by virtue of the judgment of the High Court in the second round claiming promotion as Dy.SP with effect from 25th October, 1975, when Ramjas Singh was promoted. It is contended that the High Court has committed an error of law by directing the conferment of benefits upon the respondent on the alleged ground of equality. No court can grant relief to a citizen by applying the concept of negative equality. Only because the Government